Dominic Raab dismisses early election talk as "for the birds"

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Claims that Theresa May could call a snap general election following the EU's rejection of her Brexit strategy are "for the birds", Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has said.

Reports on Sunday suggested senior aides in Downing Street had discussed the possibility of calling a snap election to break the deadlock in Brussels and within Mrs May's party over her Chequers plan for post-Brexit trade.

"It's for the birds. It's not going to happen," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

Mr Raab said the Government would keep negotiating with the EU on the basis of the Chequers proposals.

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"This is a bump in the road. We will hold our nerve, we will keep our cool and we will keep negotiating in good faith," he said.

"What we are not going to do is be dictated to. The UK is one of the biggest economies in Europe, if not in the world.

"We have come up with a serious set of proposals. We are not just going to flit from plan to plan like some sort of diplomatic butterfly. We are going to be resolute about this."

Earlier Mrs May issued an appeal to warring Tories to come together to prevent the opposition parties derailing the whole Brexit process.

Her intervention came as Jeremy Corbyn indicated for the first time he would support a second referendum if the Labour Party conference meeting in Liverpool called for one. He had earlier appeared to rule out a so-called People's Vote.

"I have said many times that these negotiations would be tough, and they were always bound to be toughest in the final straight," the Prime Minister said in a statement.

"But what's also clear is that many in Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP are trying to thwart Brexit at every step and seeking to exploit this moment for political gain.

"Some are now openly advocating a second referendum and extending Article 50 to delay Brexit, sending us right back to square one. Others are talking directly to the EU to actively undermine the UK's negotiating position.

"But I say, this is the moment to put our country first. This is the moment to set aside our differences and come together in national unity. This is the moment to do what is right for Britain."

Amid growing speculation about the Prime Minister's future, pro-EU former cabinet minister Nicky Morgan has warned that a leadership challenge to Mrs May would not be in the interests of the Conservative Party or the country.

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"Having a leadership election now would not be in the country's interest. There are particularly a lot of the hard Brexiteers who want to bring the Prime Minister down," she told Sky's Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme.

"This is not a move that would help the country in order to get to the best position after Brexit which does least damage to the economy. That is what we as Conservatives should be focused on.

"Europe has always been a big faultline in our party. But the majority of the parliamentary party and, I think, the membership want us to focus on getting a good deal that supports the economy and then moving on."